The issue of the filibuster continues to rear its ugly head, and tensions are flaring in the Senate. Republicans are against doing away with the filibuster, which means it should go away. McConnell claimed that removal of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes on major legislation, will have “dire consequences.” Where, exactly, did the filibuster begin and what was the basis of its use? Contrary to myth, it did not come from the framers of the Constitution and is, in fact, not a part of the Constitution. It began as a mechanism of blocking legislation with which members of Congress did not agree. According to Salon, in 1957 Strom Thurmond, a well-known white supremacist, held up the vote on civil rights legislation for more than 24 hours while he droned on about nothing. He did so in vain, as the Civil Rights Act of 1957 passed, paving the way for voting rights. If you think we still need this obstructionist device, think again.
The House passed, and President Biden endorsed, H.R. 1, which will ensure voting rights for every eligible American, even as Republicans across the nation try to suppress that right for people of color. If the filibuster continues to exist, Republicans will succeed. Salon discussed how Ted Cruz pulled this very obstruction, talking for 21 hours and even reading Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” and it also allowed McConnell to obstruct every piece of legislation proposed by President Obama. This should give us a clue that McConnell is ready and willing to pull the same trigger on President Biden’s agenda, and Democrats must not let this happen.
During an interview on ABC News this week, Dick Durbin said that “it is almost getting to the point where democracy’s having a hard time functioning” and he believes continuing the filibuster will prevent moving forward with the needs of the American people—needs that Durbin said the people expect. The more that Democrats can come together on this issue, the easier it will be to eliminate this obstructionist tactic and to give they people what they want and need. According to NPR, President Biden supports reforming the filibuster, and it appears that the Democrats are making headway. The Hill reported that McConnell is “clearly getting desperate” and a Washington Post opinions writer said McConnell is “squealing like a stuck pig.” Good.
McConnell is the minority leader, and he needs to start acting like it. While the Democrats have even the slimmest of majorities, they need to put McConnell in his place rather than allowing him to block President Biden’s agenda as he did with President Obama. The biggest obstacle for Democrats is Joe Manchin, who believes that “you cannot get rid of the filibuster unless your intention is to destroy the Senate.” Manchin needs a serious wakeup call. He needs to start acting like the Democrat he claims to be or switch to the other party. Regardless of what Manchin thinks, the filibuster must go.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years